U.S. Troops See the Latest Installment in the Star Wars Franchise


By Debbie Gregory.

Just because you’re serving overseas doesn’t mean you can’t have access to first-rate entertainment.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” headed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, where troops were able to see the movie just a few days after its U.S. release.

The list of locations where the movie was screened was not made available for force protection reasons. But local commanders were able to get the word out through normal channels.

This latest installment in the Star Wars franchise was directed, co-produced, and co-written by J. J. Abrams. It is set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron’s fight with the Resistance, led by veterans of the Rebel Alliance, against Kylo Ren and the First Order, descended from the Galactic Empire.

The first film in the series, Star Wars (later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope), was released on May 25, 1977 by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by the similarly successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). These three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy. A prequel trilogy was later released between 1999 and 2005, which received a more mixed reaction from critics and fans, compared to the original trilogy. All six films were nominated for or won Academy Awards, and were commercial successes

The screenings were part of AAFES’ longstanding policy of bringing first-run movies to troops deployed overseas.

“Providing service members with first-class entertainment plays a key role in maintaining the morale of our deployed forces,” said Trinidad Saucedo, AAFES’ senior vice president of services, food and fuel, in a statement.

Ken Caldwell, senior vice president of North American sales and distribution for The Walt Disney Studios, released a statement saying, “Our men and women in uniform represent the best and bravest, and it’s an honor to do something special as a thank you for their service.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Exchange Privileges for Vets: By Debbie Gregory

AAFES OnlineA new benefit could be coming soon for millions of Veterans. There are reportedly talks about expanding online shopping privileges at Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) to all honorably discharged Veterans from every branch. This proposed deal is for online shopping only.

Currently, only active duty personnel, retirees and their dependents are granted exchange privileges, which offer exclusive savings and tax-free shopping. Safeguarding the exclusivity of this privilege is nearly as daunting as securing access to the bases the exchanges are on, as every purchase is subject to an I.D. check.

Many who have served see their exchange privileges as one of the perks of military service, and one of the rewards of serving until retirement. It is this feeling that exchange privileges are indeed “a privilege” that has many active duty service members and retirees opposed to the expansion.

But the truth of the matter is that if AAFES is able to increase their consumer base online, they will increase their sales. And then the exchanges will have an easier time improving the quality of services that they provide in their brick and mortar stores for active duty and retirees.

AAFES CEO Tom Shull also sees the expansion of the exchange privilege to more Veterans as a modest way to thank them for their service and sacrifices.

Concerns have been raised that allowing the expansion of this benefit could require multiple policy changes, and pave the way for other benefit expansion, including shopping privileges at the brick and mortar stores on base. Representatives from AAFES claim that they have no intention of expanding benefits any further, and that legal reviews are underway to determine how to handle online shopping for all honorably discharged Veterans.

One of the major hang-ups with the proposal is figuring out how AAFES will share profits with Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) when Veterans from the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard shop using their online program. Shull and the AAFES team appear confident that an agreement can be reached that benefits everyone.

Talks about expanding online AAFES shopping are expected to continue into late November. Shull believes that this expansion is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” This could be big news and big savings for the Veteran community.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: Exchange Privileges for Vets: By Debbie Gregory